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Program:
  • Landscape renovation
  • Mixed plantings for year-round interest
  • Colorful perennial/ annual plantings
  • Develop rear yard as a private retreat
  • Outdoor grill
  • Custom pergola
  • Focal feature out main windows
  • Visual connection between detached garage to house
  • Manage drainage
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Downtown Awakening

Chicago, IL

On any small property, the challenge is to create usable spaces and not have it feel cluttered. Privacy, sun/shade conditions, and drainage are additional issues that need to be considered throughout the design process. For this Chicago residence, the client was looking to restore the property by creating a colorful front courtyard to welcome friends and family year-round, as well as a private retreat in the rear yard for rest and relaxation. Unifying the detached garage with the house, and screening off the undesirable alley views and utilities were key components to the success of the design.

Like most Chicago residences, the front yard has limited space and shade is a major factor in the planting design. The existing paver entry walk was complimented with bluestone stepping stones leading guests through a colorful shade garden highlighted by a sculptural focal feature. Geometric Boxwood hedges, specimen shrubs, hardy perennials and shade-loving annuals were chosen for the courtyard and parkway to supplement the existing foundation plantings and provide year-round seasonal interest.

The views out of the house to the L-shaped rear yard were dominated by the detached garage, neighbor’s brick wall and overhead utility lines. The client was looking to develop a private retreat with a European flair to be able to entertain guests but also escape the harshness of urban life. The garage facade was softened by incorporating a custom sculptural element combined with a delicate water feature and hanging flower baskets. The sculpture is located between the French doors and balances the architecture while capturing your attention. The detailed bluestone patio was laid with Mexican LaPaz pebble joints reminiscent of old world stone/tile courtyards and enabling us to hide the necessary channel drains to ensure adequate drainage. A stone masonry outdoor grill with granite countertops was constructed to provide for parties of all sizes; while a detailed clear-cedar fence with hand-made Bronze accent panels screens the neighbor’s view. Lastly, great pains were taken to realize the client’s vision of a unique pergola which would lead the patio’s style and provide a private seating area to entertain and relax. By designing a peaked roof, we were able to screen the overhead utility lines and allow for a chandelier inside the pergola. Curtains were incorporated for privacy and also to maximize light and air passing through the structure. All of these elements combine to allow the client to take a break from their busy lifestyle.

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